The Irish Shamrock – Does It Best Represent Ireland?
Does the Irish shamrock best represent Ireland - or is there another contender? This question was on the mind of our guest contributor for this week - Simon O'Flynn, who recently retired from his Butcher's shop after 68 years in the business.
A somewhat contentious question for this week. Does the Irish shamrock best represent Ireland – or is there another contender? This question was on the mind of our guest contributor for this week – Simon O’Flynn, who recently retired from his Butcher’s shop after 68 years in the business.
Simon often shares a story or two with us – sometimes overheard in his Cork city butcher’s shop down through the years. So, over to Simon as he wonders which of these plants found across Ireland this time of the year would best represent Ireland around the world.
St. Patrick’s Day, the Shamrock and the Gorse.
Shamrock and Gorse are the two species of plant that come to mind in Ireland at this special time of the year.
These two plants, the shamrock and the gorse, bear no resemblance to each other. The shamrock is a low growing flowerless plant with tender green leaves. It’s often hard to find, as it only thrives among the low grass. Gorse, sometimes called “furze”, is the complete opposite. Its vivid spiky foliage shoots skyward with brilliant and abundant coconut-scented yellow flowers. The gorse demands to be noticed.
Neither plant is, in fact, unique to Ireland. So, if you have shamrock (young clover) or gorse in your part of the world I would be interested to hear from you
I have been thinking lately about these two plants – harbingers of spring and better weather. The Shamrock is a shy and short-lived plant before turning to clover while gorse blooms a few times a year and will grow almost anywhere. To remind us of this fact, an old Irish saying goes: ‘’when gorse is out of bloom, kissing is out of fashion’’. That would be trouble indeed!
But, which plant do YOU think should best represent Ireland and the Irish people? Are we shy like the shamrock, and like to live unnoticed in very limited habitats – or are we showy (and a little prickly) and like to spread ourselves about like the gorse? I have NO preference for either plant myself – somedays I feel like a “gorse” and somedays like a “shamrock”! However, maybe we should reconsider which plant best represents Ireland.
When making your decision about whether the gorse or shamrock should represent Ireland, it might be wise to consider the following. At the traditional St. Patrick’s Day ceremony in the White House, which do you think our Taoiseach should present to the President of the United States of America…… a bowl of vibrant, prickly yellow Gorse or a bowl of gentle, lush green Shamrock?
I think we all know the answer to that! Maybe we’ll keep the gorse in our fields and the shamrock on our greeting cards after all! What do you think?
Beannachtaí na Féile – Happy Saint Patrick’s Day wherever you are in the world!
Simon O’Flynn, Cork, Ireland.
Thanks for that Simon – it’s always a pleasure to share your views on life!
As always, feel free to share the Irish surname and stories in your family.
Slán for this week,
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